Viper SmartStart iPhone app: start your car from the other side of the world

Is your car in California? Are you in New York? With the Viper SmartStart iPhone app, you could start the ignition, even from such a distance. That's exactly what Viper showed us in a demo today, using an iPhone in NYC to fire up the VW Bug in California we were watching on a monitor.

Now, there obviously aren't many times when you'd want to do that. The rep we spoke to mentioned that maybe someone using your car is locked out, and SmartStart would allow you to remotely unlock it without them having to break into it or jump through some hoops. Unlikely, but it does happen. The most common use for something like this would be to start your car on a cold day so that it is nice and warm when you get inside. It's worth noting that you can't just drive off. You'll still need a key if you want to drive, otherwise the car just turns back off.

Besides locking, unlocking and starting, you can also use the app to open your trunk or activate the car's alarm, and the app is able to manage several cars at once. The app itself is free, though your car will need to have a Viper remote start system installed to use it. If you don't have that, the entire package will cost you a whopping $500. If you do, you can get an upgrade kit which adds a GSM module for $300. There's one other fee, too — since it relies on a GSM network and it's always on, you'll have to pay $30 a year for the service (though you do get one year free).

Remote ignition isn't new. A lot of luxury vehicles have the capability to do just that, though you have to be within a certain range of the vehicle. Still, now we can finally say that there is indeed "an app for that."